Menu Plan Basics.
Creating a weekly menu plan is one of those things that seems like a huge chore, but is actually quite simple, and one of the best ways to lower your grocery bills and keep them low.
Like anything, you get better at menu planning with practice, so don’t expect to be good at it right away.
Not sure if a menu plan is right for you? Here are 5 benefits of menu planning that you should keep in mind.
Benefits of creating menu plans
- A menu plan saves you money. Lots of money.
- A menu plan saves you time. Lots of time.
- A menu plan makes meal times easy and stress-free.
- A menu plan promotes healthy eating.
- A menu plan allows for more variety in your meals.
Don’t you want to save money, save time, eat healthy, have more variety and have easier meal times? Of course you do! And guess what – a weekly menu plan can help you with that.
How to get started with menu planning
I promise, planning a menu is not a complicated process. It takes time, a bit of effort and some discipline, but so does any new thing you hope to get better at.
The very first thing I want you to keep in mind – practice makes perfect.
Your first week may be a complete fail. Your second and third week may also not go as well as you hope. The good news is that the longer you stick with it, the better you will become. After awhile, creating a menu plan becomes a habit (a good habit!).
Make a list of family favourites
Go through all of your cookbooks, recipes on your computer and scribbled on pieces of paper, and pick out your family favourites. These are meals that everyone in the house enjoys.
You should keep this list handy when you make your menu plans each week. Pick at least one of these favourites to add to your menu every time you sit down to menu plan. This makes the menu planning process just a little bit easier.
Use weekly sales for inspiration
Look at your weekly sale ads each week and make note of the items that are on sale. Incorporate them into your menu plan to save the most amount of money possible.
If chicken is on sale one week, make sure you have a chicken dish at least once that week. Do this for all of the sale items you see and enjoy eating.
Don’t schedule by date
One thing I see many people do when it comes to menu planning is to plan menus by the day of the week. They will have pizza on Friday, pasta on Wednesday, chicken tacos on Monday – don’t do this. What happens if Wednesday comes along and you really don’t feel like eating pasta at all?
Instead, make up a list of 7 dinners (and breakfasts & lunches, too, if you want to plan for those) and pick one out the night before or morning of. Avoid the feeling of being “locked in” to one particular meal, just because it’s on the menu.
A list of 7 meals to choose from is much more appealing then not having a choice the day of the meal, because you already made the decision a few days back.
After you’ve made your menu plan for the week, make a list of the groceries you will need to buy to make those meals. Go shopping only once, as shopping any more than that is likely to lead to impulse purchases.
You can shop at multiple stores, if you wish, but dedicate just one day per week to do your grocery shopping.
Menu planning saves my family hundreds (if not more) of dollars every year. It’s something I recommend to everyone that’s trying to save money, eat better and/or lose weight, or save time in the kitchen.
Keep in mind that this is something that takes time to “master”. It’s also something that needs to be treated as a lifestyle change, instead of just something you learn how to do one time.
Make menu planning part of your everyday life and I promise that you will start to see some positive changes in yourself.